A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Our family is growing!

In the middle of April, things started happening around here, most of them for the good.  The first thing, is a friend fell in love with Soli.  She is almost 3 now, and starting to grow into her self, and I think she's looking attractive.  Well, Heather (yes, my friend is one of the many Heathers!) wanted her, but couldn't seriously consider her until she moved another horse.  After a couple of weeks of talking, Heather jokingly mentioned that she'd trade me for one of her Oldenburgs.  I said that was a trade I'd be very interested in.

Heather had 2 Oldenburg mares, a 2 year old chestnut, and a 5 year old grey.  While I LOVE the red heads, I have never bought a horse just because of color.  I looked at the videos, and mentioned that I actually preferred the grey.  Now, Heather had someone interested in one of the girls (they were going to be choosing soon) so things kinda got put on hold, and waffled a bit.  In the end, the other party was interested in the chestnut filly, which meant Heather and I really were free to trade.  We struck a deal that made both of us happy, and I picked up Indira, a very lovely 15.3 hand grey Oldenburg.

Indi and I just fell in love with each other.  She reminds me of Ash, my "ultimate" horse - enough attitude to keep things interesting, enough drive to want to succeed at what ever she does, and a desire to be a good girl, if she is respected.  Indi will never be my "mount" but rather my partner.  Personally, I'm just thrilled with that.

So Heather took home Soli, I got Indi, and then she leased Amber, my Champagne AQHA mare for a breeding lease.  Now, it looks like there's a chance that one of Heather's friends might be interested in Amber (with a WHOLE lot of things to consider, and a year to wait first) and it would be a WONDERFUL home for Amber.  Talk about a win for everyone!  Comes out we're all happy about the deal, and so are the horses!

Now, we just had the 3 amazing babies during this time too, and well, how can that not make someone feel "on top of the world"?  But, it made me realize that I needed something else.  Another donkey.  Maggie Mae is great with the babies, but she's only one donkey, and come weaning time, I'll have to move her in with the kids, and leave the pasture unprotected.  I put the word out that I'd be interested in a donkey looking for a home.  I didn't care about training, or such, I just wanted a good livestock guardian... the rest will come.

And then, a guy who works with my mom, out of the blue, asked her if she wanted a donkey.  She said "well, you know, I actually have been looking for one!" and the deal was made.  Daisy Mae (she was previously Daisy, I added the Mae, just on principle) came into our lives.  Daisy is a spoiled donkey, who loves to be pampered.  She's smaller then Maggie, but definitely not a miniature donkey.  (More then Sicilian, less then a standard sized donkey).  Daisy is a bit.. well, ok a lot obese, but she's settled right in, and is doing her job great. 

It's unfortunate that we need the donkeys, but people can't seem to understand that leash laws exist for a reason, and that my pasture is NOT the place for their dogs to pretend to "hunt"... especially not my foals!  As a dog lover, I dread the thought of having to kill a dog, so the donkeys are the perfect answer.  Both of my girls will "escort" a dog out of the property, using as much force as is needed, and no more.  Yes, they will kill a dog, but not unless they have no other option. 

But, that brings me to the dogs.  You see, I have a lot of dogs.  I've always daydreamed of having a pack like the goddess Diana (goddess of the hunt).  But as some of you know, I have been losing dogs recently.  Last fall I lost Rowdy, my medical issue dog.  She had seizures, and about 5 other conditions, all of which meant that her medication to keep her comfy was slowly killing her.  She passed away peacefully in her sleep.  I couldn't ask for better for her, but I miss her every day.  Shortly after that, like, within the month, my "puppy" (i.e. 10 year old Rottie who I raised from a baby and bottle fed) got into the garbage, ate onions, and had a hemolytic problem.  One thing lead to another, and nothing we did was helping, so I had him humanely euthanized.  At this point, I was beyond devastated.  It took me months to get near normal, and then a couple of weeks ago, Suzie (Anvil's mom) started having weakness in her hips and hind legs.

We put her on some long term medications (Prednisone) altered her diet, and made a few "quality of life" decisions.  Yeah, it will likely shorten her time with me, but she's a 12.5 year old Rottweiler.  She's beyond the "average life span" for the breed.  I'd rather her last days were great.  That's my goal for any of my dogs.  But, seeing her start to age before my eyes was a wake up call.  I was "down" to 4 dogs, and I realized that none of them are "young". 

I have been fighting puppy fever for a while, thinking it would be unfair to Susie to have her golden years taken up with puppy, and then I realized that Susie is bored.  She can't "work" any more with the horses, because she can't get out of the way fast enough.  All she does is come out to the barn, and watch us.  She spent most of her life "training" foster dogs who needed to be rehabilitated (usually aggressive) and did best as the matriarch.  When Jae said even HE thought a puppy was a good idea, I was sold.  I found some Rottie mix pups up for adoption, and they were babies.  The one thing I wanted was a PUPPY this time, and a big dog (because I don't do well with small dogs).  The pups were perfect, and the rescue had no problems adopting to me.  We made plans, notified references, and waited for the pups to get old enough.

Then, last week, my mother's dog Helga didn't want to go sleep with my parents.  She was adamant that she was spending the night with me.  None of us thought anything of it.  Helga was an older Rottweiler (11 - we like to keep them around a while here) and sometimes she just did things like this.  Before I went to sleep, I heard Helga cough twice and kinda "gak".  She was an obsessive licker, and often did this when she decided to lick the carpet.  I didn't think anything of it.  The next morning, I found that she had died overnight.  Helga wasn't "my" dog, but she was family still.  I will miss her very much, but I'm so glad she got to have her last years in ONE home, with many people to love and dote on her.  She liked to be the center of attention, and to be spoiled, and she was both.

But, this only made me more sure that my plans to adopt a puppy were the right ones.  My dogs are old, and I don't know what I'd do with out them!  So Saturday morning, Jae and I got up early, blew off our horsie friends, and headed to Fort Worth for an adoption.  Jae - who is the most laid back and subtle man I know - was excited about the puppy too.  He wanted to help pick, he was thrilled, and he was as excited as I was.  There were 7 pups, in many colors, and we only knew what personality type we wanted.  Problem was, we didn't exactly agree.  We hoped that our ideals would overlap into one puppy though.  Neither of us hated what the other wanted, but Jae wanted social, and I wanted intent on working.  It was possible it would happen!

So, we were the second to "pick" from the litter.  The first lady wanted a blue male, so we waited while she picked (there were 2) but Jae had already spotted his dream dog.  A cute little male, black and tan, who was going to be a big boy.  He was smart, he was gregarious, and he was all that Jae wanted.  Sadly, he wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  We debated, we discussed, and just as I was about to relent, and let Jae have his very own puppy - who I could love too, and spoil, and steal when I want - the rescuer said "you can have 2 ya know".  Oh... DONE!

Jae and I had said for a while that ideally we'd like to raise a pair.  Puppies are easier when you have 2, happier, and well... one for each of us.  So, if we got TWO, that meant that I could pick one to meet my standards.  The female was adorable, but the longer I watched her, the more I realized that she wasn't what I wanted either.  She didn't have much focus.  I checked the others, and debated a bit, when I realized that the other little blue male was keeping tabs on everything that was going on.  He wasn't as dominant as I had wanted, but he had everything else... and he was best buds with Jae's pick.

And so it was a done deal.  On a spur of the moment decision, yet 2 years worth of dreaming, we added a pair of Rottweiler/ Italian mastiff mix puppies. 

To make it even better, when we got home, the entire pack was happy with our decision.  The boys play together wonderfully, yet are willing to also interact with the other dogs.  Susie has claimed them as HER babies, and is really excited to be a "mommy".  She has a job, and she looks so much better for it.  Moose has new friends, that he is so interested in - yet a bit terrified of, and Sharra understands that they are not taking her place, so she can be nice to them.  Hobo... well... he thinks they are cats.  He's not that smart.

I figure, it's been more good then bad, and while I'll miss Helga, I'm happy to have all the other new family members.  Things just feel right now, like the pack and herd are more settled, and we all are where we belong.  And I can finally share the news, because all of the deals are final!


  1. Lots of cool stuff happening!  Cute pups . . . and love the Oldenburg mare - my daughter's jumper mare was a Oldenburg/QH cross and had an amazing (not easy), powerful personality.

  2. I am very glad I got to meet you yesterday and the new members of your pack!  They are adorable! It was also wonderful to see all the horsie babies in person. 

  3. Wow so much going on, a new horse, new donkey and new puppies!  Wow exciting times :)

  4. All of your new additions look adorable!  It must be wonderful to be able to give them as much space as they all need.   Living an apartment is the pits. :P

  5. Donkeys, Puppies and Oldenburg's Oh My!  =)

  6. FantastykVoyagerMay 6, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Beautiful gray mare, cute puppies, and Daisy Mae, life is good around your place!

  7.  Every day I am thankful that I can do this.  I always dreamed of this type of life, so I make sure not to take it for granted.

  8. I'm so sorry for your latest loss - but PUPPIES!  And a beautiful new mare!

    Every donkey I've ever seen looks pregnant.  I am in love with a pregnant gelding donkey down the street.